Osan women's flag-football team wins 2010 peninsula championship

Osan linesmen Aimee Roth, Tina Meyers and Courtney McBurney help to penetrate Humphreys’ defense as Lauryn McCoy dives to score a touchdown during a playoff game Dec. 5. (Courtesy photo)

Osan linesmen Aimee Roth, Tina Meyers and Courtney McBurney help to penetrate Humphreys’ defense as Lauryn McCoy dives to score a touchdown during a playoff game Dec. 5. (Courtesy photo)

Lady Mustangs Coach Eric Long motivates his players at halftime during a playoff game Dec. 5. (Courtesy photo)

Lady Mustangs Coach Eric Long motivates his players at halftime during a playoff game Dec. 5. (Courtesy photo)

Osan's defense anticipates a play during the championship game against Camp Humphreys II Dec. 5. (Courtesy photo)

Osan's defense anticipates a play during the championship game against Camp Humphreys II Dec. 5. (Courtesy photo)

Samantha Perry cheers on Vanessa Valente-Perryman during a pass interception in the championship game against the Camp Humphreys II team Dec. 5. (Courtesy photo)

Samantha Perry cheers on Vanessa Valente-Perryman during a pass interception in the championship game against the Camp Humphreys II team Dec. 5. (Courtesy photo)

Kimberly Lewis blocks for Natacia Flick as she runs through the Humphreys defense during the championship game Dec. 5. (Courtesy photo)

Kimberly Lewis blocks for Natacia Flick as she runs through the Humphreys defense during the championship game Dec. 5. (Courtesy photo)

Lauryn McCoy scores a touchdown in the championship game against Camp Humphreys II Dec. 5. (Courtesy photo)

Lauryn McCoy scores a touchdown in the championship game against Camp Humphreys II Dec. 5. (Courtesy photo)

The ‘Lady Stangs’ celebrate after the final whistle following their 25-12 victory against Camp Humphreys II for the peninsula-wide flag football championship Dec. 5. (Courtesy photo)

The ‘Lady Stangs’ celebrate after the final whistle following their 25-12 victory against Camp Humphreys II for the peninsula-wide flag football championship Dec. 5. (Courtesy photo)

The 2010 Osan Lady Mustangs (from left to right): Top row - DeLourdes Crawley, Mairy-Ann Paloukos, Alfredo Catolico, Chantal Jennings, Tina Meyers, Candara Tillman, Eric Long, Vanessa Valente-Perryman, Courtney McBurney, Aimee Roth, Jazelle Mason, Kimberly Lewis, Tia Thomas. Middle row - Brenda Khamthongath, Lauryn McCoy, Erica Burris, Natacia Flick. Bottom row - Samantha Perry and Alexandria Ketterhagen. Not pictured - Raquel Marshall, Melesha Witter. (Courtesy photo)

The 2010 Osan Lady Mustangs (from left to right): Top row - DeLourdes Crawley, Mairy-Ann Paloukos, Alfredo Catolico, Chantal Jennings, Tina Meyers, Candara Tillman, Eric Long, Vanessa Valente-Perryman, Courtney McBurney, Aimee Roth, Jazelle Mason, Kimberly Lewis, Tia Thomas. Middle row - Brenda Khamthongath, Lauryn McCoy, Erica Burris, Natacia Flick. Bottom row - Samantha Perry and Alexandria Ketterhagen. Not pictured - Raquel Marshall, Melesha Witter. (Courtesy photo)

OSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- Osan's lady flag-football team, the "Lady Mustangs", won the peninsula-wide championship held Dec. 4-5.

Teams from all over the ROK vied for their shot at the Championship Trophy. As the only female Air Force team competing against their Army counterparts, the 'Lady Stangs' had their work cut out for them.

The team's journey to the playoffs wasn't an easy one. Two weeks after the team had formed, they had a handful of girls and no coach. The season was almost over before it had even begun.

When Eric Long overheard a conversation about the dire need for a coach, he volunteered immediately. Unbeknownst to him, he would not only keep the Lady Stangs alive, but also motivate and lead these women to become champions.

Long and his assistant coach, Alfredo Catolico, took to high traffic areas to recruit more players. Solely through word of mouth, they mustered up enough players to form either an offense or defense, but not both.

This wasn't the only strife the team faced throughout the season - mission requirements forced many games to be rescheduled or forfeited.

There was also a multitude of injuries, from broken fingers to cracked ribs and a few busted ankles. This was nothing like the "Powder Puff" game in high school. These were full-grown women that wanted to win, and they would fight to the bitter end to do just that.

After all of the hard work and the difficult season, it came down to one weekend: playoff weekend.

Osan's women's team was ranked last in the tournament, they had to claw their way up the rankings by beating Camp Humphreys' 1st and 2nd teams to earn a shot at the title. The Lady Stangs would not disappoint; they made it to the championship game without a loss.

The title game would decide who went home winners, and who would just go home. The Stangs had to take on the one team that proved unbeatable in the regular season: Camp Humphreys II, for a second time during the tournament. Osan beat Camp Humphreys II 6-0 to make it to the title game. Camp Humphreys II had the skill, intimidation factor and tools needed to run away with the title as the best in Korea. However, Humphreys II would need to beat the Mustangs twice to win the title. It was clear in the first half that both teams were there to win. "There were all the components of a true sports match: blood, sweat and tears," said Aimee Roth, Lady Mustang lineman.

The Lady Mustangs scored first with a 20-yard run up the middle by Lauryn McCoy which put the Stangs in the lead 6-0, but they failed to convert the extra point. They held the lead most of the game until Camp Humphreys II's defense held the Stangs on a failed fourth down conversion. With 18 seconds on the clock, Camp Humphreys' quarterback threw a 40-yard 'Hail Mary' pass for a touchdown that tied the score 6-6. Humphreys went on to convert the extra point to take the lead with 3 seconds on the clock, 7-6. It was the upset that would end the game, but not the championship.

Later in the day it was time for the two teams to square off again and this time it was for the title, no second chance, no rematch. It was time to go big or go home!

The game started with the Mustangs power-I formation running attack led by quarterback Samantha Perry and running backs McCoy and Natacia Flick, moving the ball 40 yards. McCoy would eventually score the game's first touchdown. This time the Lady Stangs converted the extra point attempt to take the lead 7-0.

Humphreys II would not go away quietly. On their very first offensive possession, they drove the ball the length of the field to score and close within 7-6. The ladies knew they were in for a fight.

Humphreys II kicked off to Osan and Flick returned the ball 30 yards, giving Osan good field position. The Lady Mustangs' offensive line held their blocks, allowing Perry to give a quick handoff to McCoy, who ran it up the middle 45 yards for her second touchdown of the day, putting Osan in the lead 13-6.

Humphreys countered by scoring a touchdown soon after making it 13-12. Osan defensive end De Lourdes Crawley said she remembers the words being shouted from the sidelines, "Let's stop them here!" Osan's defense crashed down on Humphreys' offensive line, preventing the extra point.

The Lady Stangs had the ball to start the second half. With Osan trying to move down the field, Perry threw four completions to wideouts Alex Ketterhagen, Erica Pina-Burris, Melesha Witter, and Flick to keep the drive alive. With 10 minutes left in the game, Perry completed a play action swing pass to McCoy, who ran 30 yards to the end zone for a touchdown. The Stangs took the lead 19-12.

After the score, Mairy-Ann Paloukos kicked off to Humphreys and Osan's special teams stopped them abruptly at their own 20 yard line. McCoy intercepted the first pass thrown and ran it back for a touchdown, putting Osan up 25-12. Later, following a three-and-out, Osan punted the ball to Humphreys for the game's last drive.

Now it was time for Osan's defense to hold Humphreys' high-powered offense and keep them out of the end zone. With pressure from Osan's defensive line, comprised of Canadra Tillman, Crawley, and Kim Lewis, in conjunction with linebackers Chantal Jennings, Paloukos, and Brenda Khamthongath, the defense held. This put Humphreys' offense in a do-or-die situation ... it was fourth down and Humphreys II had to go for it. With 30 seconds on the clock, Vanessa Valente-Perryman intercepted a last-ditch-effort pass. This was the final nail in the coffin for Camp Humphreys. Osan triumphed over their opponent, with a final score of 25-12.

"I'm proud the way we came together as a team and left everything on the field," said Coach Long. "Desire beats talent any day and today we just wanted it more."